My colleague, Jett Goldsmith wrote an editorial regarding the recent policy changes to curtail harassment at Twitter and Reddit. I recommend reading it here.
What kind of Internet do you want it to be?
The Internet is no longer the "wild west" to be sure. But the question is, what kind of Internet do we want it to evolve into?
I certainly would not want to see the Internet devolve into a series of individual "hug boxes" where participants are only exposed to comforting, self-reinforcing opinions.
Similarly, I would not want to see the Internet devolve into a place where people mask their intolerance of other opinions by labeling those beliefs as "hate speech" or "dangerous beliefs" or "harassing". Disagreement isn't harassment.
Not agreeing with you doesn't make it hate speech
Over the past few years, we have increasingly seen small groups bully their way to silence others by torturing the language. Disagreement become harassment. Challenging someone's opinions becomes hate speech. Not sharing the right politics becomes "dangerous" or "extremist".
Routinely, we have also seen the most vocal proponents of censorship and intolerance turn on each other in an endless competition to establish who is the greater victim, who is the least privileged or who has suffered the most. This race to the bottom is not a trend that we should want to encourage.
Merit. Self Reliance. Hard work. These are things that our society relies on to function on a day to day basis. It is only because we have sufficient numbers of people who adhere to these beliefs that others have the luxury of engaging in debates regarding privilege, identity politics and superficial diversity goals.
Where it is all heading
We have left the "wild west". People are starting to understand that privately run sites are under no obligation to put up with hateful people in the name of "unlimited free speech".
Our destination, however, remains unknown because the question of what exactly is "hateful" and who decides what "hateful" is. I for one, do not want that question determined by those who have the most free time on their hands.
What say you?